Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Howlin Rain @ Big Sur

Here's a pleasant surprise, two live tracks sent in by Howlin Rain from their show last month at the Fernwood Resort in Big Sur, California. The songs include "Death Prayer" from their debut and the trippy "Nomads" which appears on Magnificent Fiend. If you're familiar with either song, you'll appreciate these versions, as the band's live performance reveals subtleties that aren't heard in their studio recordings, especially within the playful exchange between the two guitars. Find the link below and check it out.

It does indeed seem that Howlin Rain will be appearing at Jambalaya in Arcata within the next few weeks. A date should be announced very soon.

Edit Alert!!! Howlin Rain will indeed be playing Jambalaya in Arcata on May 28th and will then return September 10th to open for the Black Crowes at Humboldt State's Van Duzer Theater.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Howlin Rain Review

Oops. I've been slacking this week. Took a trip to Eugene, Portland, Olympia, and Seattle for a bit of record shopping and some much needed spring break. Record hunting treated me well: Heldon, Hawkwind, Robert Calvert, Deodato, Billy Cobham, and Tangerine Dream were among the highlights.

Anyhow, people I talked to on my journey seem to be pretty jazzed about the new Howlin Rain, and I think it's for good reason. You can read all about it here in the North Coast Journal. Being that there are three Humboldt natives in the band, I shot some questions to Ethan Miller in hopes of spicing up the review, and he came through with some interesting stuff. His thoughts are below.

On the differences between the debut and Magnificent Fiend

Yeah the keys make a huge difference. Playing with Joel in the last year and a half I have fallen totally in love with the piano and keyed instruments again. The range and detail and power is enormous of this type of instrument. The first album was made in a very short time with a very small budget and whole lot of whiskey and chance. This album I wrote the hell out of it for about a year or so before the new band even started rehearsing it. I took my time to make sure we had what I wanted with the sound and quality of the record too. It wasn't so much a smash and grab as they say in the burglary business.

On the impression that Howlin Rain is simply a side project to Comets on Fire…

I never envisioned it to be a one release band. I think because Comets was such a known entity to the underground and indie world that folks just thought it was a side project. But really I developed it to be something I could really focus on and dump my main energies into.

On his influences and inspiration for writing the new album…

At the time that I was really heavily writing and then throughout the recording I was really deep into Mahavishnu Orchestra, Paul Simon (still crazy era), Miles Davis (fusion era), Delaney and Bonnie, a book called Perdido St. Station by China Mieville, Richard and Linda Thompson, Cormac McCarthy's No Country and The Road, short stories of Clifford D. Simak, The Melvins, Popol Vuh, Moorcock's Dancers At the End of Time trilogy, Scientist, Lee Scratch Perry, Arik Roper's artwork, Michael Mann's Miami Vice, Steely Dan's Aja album, Rollin's era Black Flag, Leslie West and Mountain, Gal Costa, The Groundhogs---it goes on forever. I have a rabid and eclectic appetite these days for music and I get obsessed with sounds and bands and albums and dive deep very quickly with them and then move on, it's just they way it goes for me for better or for worse. This was probably my heavy rotation for a month or so a year ago. Best I can remember.

On his relationship to his native Humboldt…

Humboldt is a very unique place. It has a unique and intense resonance and I have tried to fuse elements of its resonance into some of the Howlin Rain vibe---that mix of beauty and mystery and darkness. I have deep feelings of both connection and disconnection to Humboldt. My parents and a lot of old friends are there so a huge part of my heart is there. It is a place I have run to and run from at different points in my life. It is not a place where you can belong as an outsider and yet it's arms are always open if you are willing to stay. I am an outsider now but I still have these deep roots to the place and its resonance hangs around my head and heart still sometimes.

Finally, here's a video from the band's recent in store performance at Amoeba Records.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Neurosis @ Beyond the Pale

What more can I say? One of the biggest perks to living in the Bay Area for eight years was events like this, bands like this, experiences like this. Neurosis live in San Francisco while hosting Beyond the Pale in 2002.

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Floyd Interpreted

Pink Floyd has been dominating my life lately, particularly their post-Barrett and pre-Darkside material. I found this video of "Atom Heart Mother" during one of my recent web stumblings and was pretty blown away. It's the "Concert au Conservatoire de Paris" recorded by a bunch of super talented young musicians, vocalists, and dancers back in March of 2003. I have never been a fan of the various rock/orchestra combos that have seeped into the mainstream over the past ten or so years, but this is done right and certainly would make Waters, Gilmour, Mason, and Wright gleam with pride. If you have 35 free minutes, this will be well worth your viewing. I'm hoping to locate a downloadable audio version of this.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Nudity @ Baltimore/Olympia

If you didn't get a chance to see Nudity on their West Coast swing last month, you'll get another opportunity in April, as the band is putting together a tour that will take them across the country. It looks like they'll be intermittently joining Vincent Black Shadow, Birds of Avalon, and Dead Meadow on a variety of dates. When I saw them here in Arcata they played a thirty minute jam that I can only assume is a newer song. I have a feeling they thrive off of people not knowing what to expect.

The radio player over in the right column still has one of their versions of "The Nightfeeders" for your listening pleasure. Their 12" is shipping this week to a variety of distros. You can also get it through Kill Rock Stars and K records. Rumor has it that they'll soon be recording for a split LP with Vincent Black Shadow on Rocket Recordings, but nothing has been concretely set.

Anyways, the band sent in two live tracks for posting and downloading purposes. The first is an early take on "The Nightfeeders" recorded June 4, 2006 at the Talking Head in Baltimore, MD. It's roughly a twelve minute version of their now twenty-one minute opus, and it's interesting to hear the kind of progress the band has made over the past couple of years. The second track is a cover of Alice Cooper's "Long Way To Go." It's definitely the shortest thing I've heard them do, but it does indeed rock. The song was recorded at the Capitol Theater Backstage in Olympia, WA on September 16, 2006. I believe both songs are from self-released CDs they put out over the past couple years- don't hold me to that though. Check my Nudity posts from February for more info about the band.

Click here!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Harmonia Review

I'm not going to pretend that I'm some kind of authority on Krautrock or improvised electronic music from the 1970s, but I am comfortable in saying that Harmonia's Live 1974 is one of the top releases of the genre, regardless of the fact that is was only recently made available. Placed into its original and proper historical context, it's an amazing piece of work. There aren't many recordings that have been able to sustain their relevancy over time, but this is certainly one of them. It makes me wonder how many other undocumented pieces of music history are out there waiting to be discovered. Even by today's standards, Harmonia's music is strikingly fresh and innovative, offering its listeners perspectives of music that are rarely explored.

You can read my review of the album in this week's North Coast Journal. And if anyone out there knows how I can get my hands on the vinyl version of this for less than $25, please let me know.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Electric Wizard @ BBC Studios (updated)

This is a repost of Electric Wizard at BBC studios in 2005. My original posting contained two songs, "We Live" and "Dopethrone," and included deejay dialog between the two tracks. This version is uninterrupted and includes the addition of "Another Perfect Day" as a third track. Download this and delete the others if you already have them. This is much better. This is best played late at night at high volume when your bean bag juggling, hoop rolling, magic stick tossing, Tibetan flag displaying neighbors are trying to sleep. Trust me.

I've still got my fingers crossed in hopes of a return of Electric Wizard to the US. Witchcult Today gets better with every listen, and I'm ready to see those songs live. Keep your eyes open on this blog; I've got some live material that will post within the next couple of weeks.

Click here!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Krautrock Debacle

I was convinced that I had actually found the holy grail of my book collection. There I was on Amazon UK, thinking that I had finally, after years of searching, found an affordable copy of Julian Cope's out of print KrautRockSampler. I've seen it fetch over $125 on Ebay. It currently sits used on Amazon US for anywhere between $149 and $250. According to my conversion of the American dollar and British pounds, I had found a copy for only $30!

About three weeks after ordering, my package finally arrived. I happened to have a couple hours of free time that I, upon sight of my parcel, set aside for my reading pleasure. I tore the book from its package and immediately opened the book to let my eyes fall upon the first words I saw. "Und so wurde 1972/73 eine sehr erfolgreiche, aber auch alles entscheidende Zeit für Amon Düül II." I smiled and laughed. What was there really to say or do?

I went back online to double check my order. The seller did not bother to mention that the book was in German. And yeah, I know- Krautrock is a German music scene. What did I expect, right? Well, Cope is an English author for fuck's sake. What's the deal? I made myself feel better by reading buyer feedback that expressed the frustration of having experienced the same ruse with the same seller. Such is life. The book looks good on the shelf and has a good story behind it.

I don't know if KrautRockSampler will ever get an English reprint, but I do remember that my buddy Dylan told me that there was a PDF version floating around. It didn't take too long to find, seems that there has been a ton of interest as of late. If you click here, you'll be linked to a site from which you too can download and own your own copy. It's not the best scan in the world, but it will have to do. Unless, of course, you know how to read German or have a chunk of disposable income.